Marvel Almost Made a ‘War Machine’ Movie

war machine movie

We might have seen Marvel’s first solo black superhero movie long before Black Panther.

A pitch for a War Machine solo movie starring Don Cheadle was nearly greenlit by Marvel. The project got as far as Marvel hiring the writer who pitched the idea, screenwriter Joe Robert Cole (who would later co-write Black Panther), but the project stalled as Shane Black’s Iron Man 3 script started coming together.

In an interview with Complex, Cole revealed how he joined Marvel’s writer’s program, which helped launched the careers of Guardians of the Galaxy writer Nicole Perlman and Thor: Ragnarok writer Eric Pearson. The studio had reached out to Cole directly because of a “Chinatown-style cop script” he’d penned, which resulted in a meeting:

At that meeting, they also said they were thinking of doing a War Machine movie. I pitched a concept and won that job to write the script but they decided, based on what Iron Man 3 was going to be, they weren’t going to do War Machine anymore. But they asked if I’d be interested in joining their writer’s program instead.

It’s unfortunate we never got to see Don Cheadle become the movie superstar that he always deserved to be, but thankfully, Iron Man 3 was a worthy showcase of his James “Rhodey” Rhodes. Though Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark was unquestionably the star of the movie, Iron Man 3 was essentially a buddy comedy, with Rhodey playing the exasperated straight man to Tony’s bumbling hero.

But apart from those few moments of whip-smart banter in Iron Man 3, Rhodey has sadly been relegated to second fiddle for the majority of the Marvel films he has appeared in. Even in Captain America: Civil War, wherein Rhodey’s injury was a pivotal plot point, he registered almost as a non-presence. This isn’t Cheadle’s fault — the man’s an Oscar nominee for god’s sake — but the fault of writers who only approach the character as Tony’s voice of reason. There are glimmers of a twinkling camaraderie between Tony and Rhodey throughout the movies, but nothing that matches the rapport in the comics, where Rhodey often ends up saving the world from Tony’s mistakes.

Maybe the success of the buzzy Black Panther, already breaking records in pre-sale tickets, will finally lead to the War Machine movie that Don Cheadle deserves.

What do you think a War Machine movie could be about?

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